illustrated by Tumi K. Steyn
Published by Kenilworth Road, 2013
Softcover; 34 pages; rrp AU$15
Following on from her highly successful second book for children,
the quirky Preposterous Frog, award-winning poet Beverley
George's Araki and the Dream Catcher is another beautiful
production superbly illustrated by South African artist Tumi Steyn.
Tapping into every parent's concern to keep their child safe, and every child's desire to be entertained, this charming story invokes a mythical creature who comes to 'mend' Tom's new dreamcatcher, so that 'all the good things around you slip through the ring and into your dreams, but unhappy things get caught in the web and cannot harm you'. Araki's task is to ensure that Tom and his dreamcatcher 'match' each other.
Beverley George's gentle wisdom shines through when, for example, Araki remonstrates with Tom after he's thrown his 'bed rabbit' out of his cot because it 'can't even talk'. 'That rabbit is not just fur and stuffing, you know. It holds the welcome of the person who gave it to you when you were born. And when your Mum or Dad snuggle the rabbit against you at night, they are filling it with love thoughts to keep you company in the dark hours.' And so Tom finds a name, Wickers, for his new friend, the bed rabbit.
Tom expresses his affection for Araki by scratching behind Araki's wing-like ears, turning the tips turquoise, something Araki really enjoys although he claims he doesn't want to 'make a habit of it.' And to say goodbye, he provides a midnight feast and Tom's favourite music, and they bomp and stomp all night to the rhythm of African drums, rock 'n' roll and hip hop.
By morning, Araki has gone - but the dreamcatcher is still there, and the reader shares Tom's dream that, one day, he will visit Araki's cave.
Tumi Steyn's beautiful illustrations capture the magical quality of the furry Araki as well as the frustration of Tom who, the reader suspects, spends many boring hours trapped in his cot. A magical mix of text and illustration that's bound to capture the imagination of child listeners, and warm the hearts of their parents.
This review by Felicity Pulman, author of "Ghost Boy"
and of the popular Janna series, was first published in 'Women's
Ink' the Society of Women Writers NSW Inc. newsletter Winter 2014